A dental filling is arguably the most well known dental procedure. But what exactly does it do?

The human body has the incredible ability to restore itself after injury or illness. White blood cells gather at a scratch or cut on the skin almost immediately to start the healing process. Broken bones will eventually fuse back together. Even after parts of the brain are damaged, other parts can take over the lost functions. However, our teeth cannot repair themselves. A cavity - a hole in the surface of a tooth caused by bacteria build-up - will require a filling from your Cedar Rapids dentist to seal it closed.

Types of fillings

There are two types of filling compound - amalgam and composite. Which one you get depends largely on where in your mouth the cavity is located. For back teeth, amalgam is strongly recommended. Made of a mixture of metals, it is more durable than composite and can better withstand the pressure from chewing. Composite is a resin material that is "tooth-colored" and more often used on the surfaces of visible teeth.

How fillings work

After administering local anesthetic that numbs the specific area in your mouth, the tooth will be "prepared" - a process in which Dr Milden uses a handheld tool to carve out the decay and any extra space around the cavity needed to place the filling material. This seals off your tooth, keeping any further bacteria from entering the inner portions and causing further infection. Once the material has hardened, Dr. Milden will check to see if the filling needs any further shaping to mold it perfectly against your tooth. It is a fairly quick process, depending on the number and severity of your cavities, and you can return to normal activities as soon as the numbing medications wear off.

Fillings are a low-cost way of maintaining your smile and avoiding more in-depth and costly procedures like root canals or extractions. The dental professionals at Dr. Katie Milden's office in Cedar Rapids would be happy to answer any questions you have about dental fillings.

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